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Burleson resigns as IMB trustee

REVISED January 31, 2008.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Wade Burleson of Oklahoma has resigned from the board of trustees of the International Mission Board, effective Jan. 30.

Burleson’s one-sentence letter of resignation to trustee chairman John Floyd of Tennessee reads: “This letter is to officially notify you and the other members of the IMB Board of Trustees that I am resigning my service on the Board effective today.”

He delivered a signed copy of his resignation letter the afternoon of Jan. 30 after the close of the trustees’ meeting in Gainesville, Fla.

IMB trustees had voted to censure Burleson for violations of their trustees’ code of conduct during a Nov. 6, 2007, executive session. Since that meeting, Floyd said the trustee executive committee had sought legal counsel from four attorneys after the vote to censure Burleson, and although it was affirmed that the trustees had the right to censure a trustee, the censure could not have the “broad authority” it sought. “Accordingly, … we will not be enforcing those portions of the censure,” Floyd said.

Floyd reported that the trustee board was responding to that concern by allowing Burleson to vote in sessions of the full trustee board, with expenses paid for attending the meetings, but that the board’s censure of Burleson would continue to limit him from being appointed to trustee committees.

Later in the plenary session, Burleson was permitted to make a statement to trustees. He referenced a letter he had sent to Floyd in December 2007 and read a revised version to the trustees. He said in part:

“To begin with, I do admit that in the past I intentionally violated our newly revised in the Spring of 2006 trustee standards of conduct. In particular, I publicly disagreed with certain actions taken by this board, rather than speaking in supportive terms or staying silent on matters [with] which I disagreed,” Burleson said.

“I want you to know that I never expressed my dissent out of a desire to harm the work of the IMB or any of you. You are my fellow trustees and brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead, I expressed my disagreement with a couple of board-approved actions, did so out of an exercise of my conscience and a desire to represent the Southern Baptist Convention.”

“Therefore,” Burleson concluded, “it is my goal going forward, to the extent it rests in my power to do so, to live at peace with all of you and not cause you offense. It is also my goal to have a greater focus on the work of the IMB than on me. Accordingly, I commit to you this day that I will no longer violate, intentionally or otherwise, our newly revised trustee standards of conduct.”

The trustee executive committee did not accept the statement as an apology.

After the trustee meeting Jan. 30, Burleson said that he decided to resign because “I felt that if the letter I submitted was not sufficient for restoration, then I felt I would never be restored. So, the only thing left was to resign.”

When asked about the response of the trustee executive committee to Burleson’s statement, Floyd said, “We decided it wasn’t an apology. It was an explanation of what he did and why he did it, but it did not meet the request for an apology for intentionally violating the trustee code of conduct.”

The Nov. 6 censure of Burleson noted multiple violations in the code of conduct, including requirements that trustees “refrain from public criticism of Board approved actions” and “scrupulously avoid either the fact or the appearance” of having disclosed information or private conversations from trustee meetings.
Released by the international bureau of Baptist Press.

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